First World War Project
Walter David COLE (of Oare)
Private, Service Number GS/34744
Those Memorialised at Thiepval are without known graves. The loss of life was often very heavy, perhaps in no-man's land in the ebb and flow of local and larger battles or as the result of shell bursts that either destroyed or buried the soldiers. Consequently, dates of death are often remarked as "on or since, death presumed". Reading the War diaries for the battle in which Walter died, the death date given is very likely right.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records: "Son of Mr and Mrs George Cole, of 1, Pheasant Cottages, Oare, Faversham; husband of Ethel Gertrude Cole, of 6, Granville Flats, Love Street, Herne Bay, Kent. Walter's effects went to his widow, Ethel Gertrude, and children. Payments comprised an initial payments of £2 10s. 4d and a War Gratuity of £3 immediately after the war." [See Appendix 2]
Walter came from a very large extended local family. His father's generation was born in and around Graveney, but Walter set up his marital home in Oare with wife Ethel Gertrude. His father was the eldest of 10 children to George Robert and Ellen Cole - nearly all of whom were born in Graveney and lived their early lives there or nearby. We then find Walter's father living in Abbey Street, Faversham, working as a maltster who later became Farm Bailiff on Provender Farm. His father died at the relatively young age of 40 years. Walter's grandfather, George Cole (b. Sheldwich) was a farm labourer living on Seasalter Road, Faversham, later moved as a labourer to Church Farm, Harty (Isle of Sheppey), and then became Farm Bailiff on Marsh Farm, Luddenham. Over three generations, this family barely moved a greater distance than 6 miles in any direction.
In the 1881 census, George Robert Cole (Walter's father) is recorded as a maltster lodging in 56 Abbey Street, Faversham, next door to the Payne Family, whose daughter, Esther (dressmaker), married Walter's brother, Albert, on 27th November 1881. Albert died at the Faversham explosion on 2nd April 1916.
In 1911, aged 21, Walter was a Domestic Gardener living with his widowed mother, Esther, at 1 Pheasant Cottages, Oare, Near Faversham. In early 1913, Walter married Ethel Gertrude Overy (b. 1889, Herne Hill, Kent) who was a Domestic Housemaid in Newnham Vicarage (1911 Census).
From the limited military records available for Walter, it appears he was posted to 10th Royal Fusiliers on 25th July 1916. The Battalion had first arrived in Boulogne on 20th July 1915; a year later, when Walter arrived, the Battalion was heavily engaged in fighting around Albert, billeted at BRESLE. In the days following 25th July 1916, the Battalion was being drilled in attack formations and close quarter fighting. A draft of 198 other ranks was noted in the Battalion War Diary on 26th July - "many of whom are Recruits of 3 to 4 months Service." On 31st July, he would have his first taste of being in support of trenches at ALBERT and then moved to 2 trenches in MEMTEZ WOOD. No incidents.
Awarded the Victory and British Medals [See Appendix 1].
Circumstances of the death of Walter David COLE
The 18th November saw a significant trench warfare action against German troops along the ANCRE River.
1. Battalion War Diary - 1/10th Royal Fusiliers (111th Infantry Battalion, 37th Division)
11th November: HEM & HARDINVAL: "X" Day. March to PUCHEVILLERS - back to same hutments. Weather fair, at first - thick scotch mist after lunch halt. Entered PUCHEVILLERS in dark - road badly blocked by Motor Transport.
12th November: PUCHEVILLERS: "Y" Day. Left PUCHEVILLERS for VARENNES 3.45 p.m. Roads very bad & very congested at VARENNES. Arrived VARENNES about 8 p.m. Hutments. Orders received to be ready to march at short notice any time after 7 a.m. 13th. Advised ZERO 5.45 a.m. 13th.
13th November: VARENNES: Left VARENNES 3.30 p.m. fighting order, with field kitchens, to assembly point Q.25.... near ENGLEBELMER. Arrived in dark. Ordered to move on via MARTINSART, and receive orders at MESNIL CHURCH. Finally reached HAMEL, and ordered about 1 a.m. to take over old BRITISH LINE from R. ANCRE to point Q.17.d.2.8. [LENS Map] which was done under difficulties just before day break 14th.
14th November: At 8.15 a.m. in conjunction with a TANK took 270 prisoners from REDOUBT in old German LINE at Q.17.b.9.0. Not a shot fired. Release 60 English prisoners, who had been well treated. REDOUBT had been passed in general assault on 13th by 63rd Division (R.N.D.). We took 3 Machine Guns. Most of day spend in collecting wounded - both English and German.
15th November: Orders received 10.30 a.m. to take over portion of new front line Q.7.a.2.2. to Q.6.c.5.3. Parties sent up to reconnoitre Germans still at head of STATION ALLEY Q.12.a.10.8., which was supposed to be in British hands. 9 prisoners were taken by reconnoitring parties. Took over line from 13th R. Brigade from Q7.a.2.2. to Q.6.c.4.0. - then latter point being beyond the LEFT of the 13th R. Brigade line. Relief completed 2 a.m. 16th.
16th November: 1 a.m. received orders to attack and capture trenches in Q.6.C. forming triangle from Q.6.c.9.0. to junctions of MUNICH & FRANKFORT TRENCHES with LEAVE AVENUE, and to establish strong point at these junctions. Attack made ad dawn failed owing to rifle and Machine Gun fire. At 3.45 p.m. 2 bombing parties reached the junction but had to retire, owing to superior enemy forces. Lieutenant R. STEPHENSON killed, 2nd Lieutenant L. THORPE missing (believed wounded and prisoner).
Ordered to occupy MUCK TRENCH Q.6.d. from LEAVE AVENUE to RAILWAY AVENUE with 4 strong posts. Attempts made in daylight under 2nd Lieutenants GROUND & BARNES were foiled by enemy barrage. 2 posts were dug established by 2nd Lieutenant GROUND after dark (on LEFT). 2 on RIGHT went astray under 2nd Lieutenant L M MOOR. These were subsequently established on night of 17th by 2nd Lieutenant BAMBRIDGE after a brush with the enemy resulting in 6 casualties.
17th November: Day passed without remarkable incident. Some enemy shelling. After dusk 2nd Lieutenant BARKER & 12 men from "A" Company reinforced 2nd Lieutenant GROUND at LEFT POST in MUCH TRENCH - order having been received to again attack TRIANGLE in conjunction with main frontal attack of 32nd Division on our left - and also to make good junction of MUCK TRENCH & LEVE ALLEY.
18th November: During night 17/18 the Machine Gun Team at LEFT POST in MUCK TRENCH was knocked out by a shell - the officer in charge (2nd Lieutenant GREY, 111th Machine Gun Company) & nearly all the team being killed.
'Zero' for 32nd Division attack was 6.10 a.m. - at which hour our various parties stormed their objectives. All made good, with exception of 2nd Lieutenant BARKER's party, which was strongly opposed and unable to enter LEAVE AVENUE. Owing to failure of RIGHT of 32nd Division attack - our parties had to be again withdrawn - 2nd Lieutenant W.O.BARNES being killed and various other casualties being sustained.
19th November: Again ordered attack TRIANGLE (night 18/19) - this time with 2 Companies in frontal attack. This plan eventually modified to 2 Strong Officers' Patrol under 2nd Lieutenant R.C. BAMBRIDGE & 2nd Lieutenant HEYWOOD - with previous artillery bombardment.
This bombardment was ineffectual - owing no doubt to the Artillery having had no opportunity of ranging. The parties again reached their objective, but were again forced to retire owing to strength of the enemy. 2nd Lieutenant BAMBRIDGE was wounded.
20th November: During night of 19/20 Battalion was relieved by 13th R.F. & Companies 18th L.N.LANCS, and proceeded to STATION ROAD Q.12.C.. where next day was spent, without incident.
2. Divisional War Diary - 37th Division
12th November: MARIEUX: 63rd Infantry Brigade moves to area LEALVILLERS-ACHEUX Wood. H.Q. at LEALVILLERS.
111th Infantry Brigade moves to WARENNES-HEDAUVILLE. H.Q. HEDAUVILLE; 112th Infantry Brigade to LOUVENCOURT-VAUCHELLES. H.Q. at LOUVENCOURT.
13th November: 5.45 a.m. Modified operations as described in 37th Division. Order 46 commenced.
9.45 a.m. 13th K.R.R.C. and 13th R.B. move to Q.25.d to be at disposal of 63rd Division, but not to be moved without authority from Corps H.Q.
10.30 a.m. Summary of general situation issued by V Corps. [Appendix III]
2.40 p.m. Remainder of 111th Infantry Brigade (less Field Ambulances) ordered to march to 63rd Division Advance H.Q. at Q.25.d, and replace 13th K.R.R.C. and 13th R.B. ordered forward. Whole Brigade placed at disposal of 63rd Division.
1.15 p.m. 112th Infantry Brigade ordered to move to BERTRANCOURT as soon as possible. Brigade placed at disposal of 3rd Division less 2 Battalions (11/Warwicks and 6/Bedfords).
Advanced H.Q.: Subsequently moved to MAILLY and placed at disposal of 2nd Division.
6 p.m. Advanced Divisional H.Q. opened at VARENNES.
VARENNES: 7.15 p.m. Summary of general situation issued by V Corps.[Appendix IV]
8.50 p.m.: V Corps order received for 63rd Infantry Brigade to move to Q.3.b. and HEDAUVILLE.
11.35 p.m.: V Corps order received placing 112nd Infantry Brigade definitely under 2nd Division with proviso that it is not employed West of the SERRE-BEAUMONT-HAMEL Road.
14th November: VARENNES: 3.20 p.m. Units of 63rd Infantry Brigade at HEDAUVILLE ordered to move to Q.25.d. as soon as possible.
8.00 p.m.: Situation at 8 p.m. as regards 37th Division is as follows:
111th Infantry Brigade under G.O.C. 63rd Division on BEAUCOURT trench. The village of BEAUCOURT in our hands.
112th Infantry Brigade under G.O.C. 2nd Division. 11th Warwicks and 6/Bedfords in a consolidated line of shell holes West of MUNICH Trench. 8/E. Lancs and 10/2 N. Lancs ordered to move from MAILLY at 2 a.m. 15th Nov and attack MUNICH Trench and FRANKFORT Trench at 9.00 a.m. under G.O.C. 63rd Division about ENGLEBELMER-MARTINSART Road prepared to relieve a brigade of 63rd Division in the line. Situation report received from V Corps. 63rd Division order 47 issued.
15th November: 12 noon: Advance Divisional HQ: Advanced Divisional H.Q. at VARENNES, and open in dugouts at Q.26.c.0.3. Division takes over Command of the line from the R.ANCRE on the right to Q.6.c.4.4. on the left.
63rd and 39th Divisional Artillery and 4th Brigade R.H.A. were also placed under G.O.C. 37th Division including 123rd Brigade R.F.A. (37 Divisional Artillery) hitherto under 63rd Division.
Relief of 63rd Division completed during night of 15th/16th November.
Situation as follows:-
10th Yorks & lancs from River ANCRE to R.7.b.3.5.
8th Lincolns two companies from R.7.b.3.5. to junction of REDOUBT ALLEY and BEAUCOURT Trench. Two Companies further south in BEAUCOURT Trench.
8th Somersets REDOUBT ALLEY (in support).
4th Middlesex STATION ROAD (in reserve).
111th Brigade H.Q. Q.18.c.0.2.
13th R.F. BEAUCOURT Trench (in front line)
13th K.R.R.C. BEAUCOURT Trench (in front line)
10th Royal Fusiliers STATION Road (in support)
13th R.B. GORDON Trench (in reserve)
112th Infantry Brigade with 2nd Division.
During night of 15th/16th November. 10th Royal Fusiliers and 13th K.R.R.C. changed places as the latter had suffered very heavy casualties.
16th November: Q.26.C.0.5. Sialkot Cavalry Brigade Machine Gun Squadron attached to 37th Division to be used under divisional arrangements. 8 guns placed in left section and 4 in right.
During the afternoon the 63rd Infantry Brigade established strong posts in the Quarries at R.8.a.2.0. and R.7.b.8.0. 1 officer and 25 Other Ranks in each. Patrols also pushed up BEAUCOURT SWITCH and through BOIS D'HOLLANDE towards POISIEUX TRENCH from which they drew fire.
The 111th Brigade attempted a bombing attack on the junction of FRANKFORT TRENCH and LEAVE AVENUE which failed. A strong point was formed at Q.6.c.4.4. Posts sent out to MUCK TRENCH were forced to retire by the Enemy's barrage but went out again. MUCK and BEAUCOURT Trenches were heavily shelled by the enemy during the afternoon causing a good number of casualties.
17th November: During the night 16/17 two posts were established in RAILWAY TRENCH one about 50 yards from the junction of MUCK and RAILWAY Trenches and the other about 50 yards nearer our own line.
The 8/Somerset L.I. also pushed up ANCRE Trench to R.8.b.0.5. and also started constructing posts on the road. A post was sent out to the BOIS D'HOLLANDE and PUISIEUX TRENCH was reconnoitred and found to be held by the Enemy. Strong posts were also established at R.1.d.3.0., R.7.b.8.1. and R.1.d.8.9.
The left Brigade established four Lewis Gun posts in MUCK TRENCH and one at R.1.c.2.5.
5.10pm: Airman report GUISIEUX Trench from R.2. central southwards to be unoccupied. Strong patrols ordered to push out during the night and establish posts in it - also to reconnoitre of possible towards BAILLESCOURT FARM.
With the exception of some shelling of BEAUCOURT and MUCK TRENCHES and STATION ROAD the day passed quietly.
112th Infantry Brigade ordered to move up to HAMEL on 18th. This Brigade came into billets at ENGLEBELMER night 16/17 and returned to 37th Division in the morning.
(Orders issued for operation on 18th inst. are attached - Order No.48). [Appendix VII]
7.45 p.m.: Orders were issued to 63rd Brigade to endeavour to establish posts in PUISIEUX and RIVER TRENCHES and to be in readiness to assist the 19th Division in this attack on GRANDCOURT and BAILLESCOURT FARM on 18th. Patrols were to be pushed out to reconnoitre the latter if posts were established in RIVER TRENCH and arrangements were made for the artillery barrage to be kept off these areas.
18th November: 4.45 a.m.: Information was received that our patrols made six attempts to enter PUISIEUX Trench during the night 17th/18th but met with strong opposition. Patrols on other parts of the front were also fired at and the Germans appeared very much on the alert and their artillery showed considerable activity on the 63rd Brigade front (right section) during the night.
8.50 p.m.: Information received that at 8.30 a.m. 10th Royal Fusiliers report that a strong officers post at the junction of MUCK TRENCH and LEAVE AVENUE attempted to bomb down towards FRANKFORT TRENCH but met with strong opposition and were unable to proceed.
9.20 a.m.: Orders issued for two leading battalions, 112th Brigade, to move to STATION ROAD.
9.40 a.m.: Information was received that 'Tanks' were coming up and 111th Brigade were told to take full advantage of this - only one of the Tanks however actually appeared on the scene and that too late to be of much use.
11.40 a.m.: Remainder of 112th Infantry Brigade were ordered up to STATION ROAD.
11.50 a.m.: Information received that the 2nd Corps were making progress and had occupied the Western outskirts of GRANDCOURT.
1.30 p.m.: The situation with regard to 37th Division reported to be as follows:-
Right: Still fighting in Southern End of PUISIEUX TRENCH.
Left: Established at Q.6.c.53.40.
Line running through BOIS D'HOLLANDE and R.1.d.8.3. and consolidation providing. One tank got as far as Q.6.b.2.4. and was heavily shelled. It got back to Q.12.a.7.2. but was unable to move further.
4.00 p.m.: Orders were issued for disposition of 112th Brigade for the night as under:-
1 Battalion at disposal of 63rd Brigade.
1 Battalion at disposal of 111th Brigade.
Remainder of Brigade to be located between HAMEL and STATION ROAD, both inclusive.
5.07 p.m.: V Corps issued that no further attack would be made today and that the work of consolidating the ground gained was to be pushed forward with all speed.
9.45 p.m.: Touch was definitely obtained with 2nd Corps on right at a point on the River ANCRE 150 yards West of GRANDCOURT.
10.30 p.m.: Order No. 49 Issued. [Appendix VIII]
19th November: The night 18/19 passed quietly and no counter-attack was made by the enemy.
3.30 p.m.: At 3.30 p.m. Orders were received from the Corps that V Army considered the 19th Division position on the ANCRE near GRANDCOURT was unsatisfactory and that the line there was to be withdrawn to R.8.c.8.0. Orders were issued accordingly and the operations were successfully carried out during the night.
3.35 p.m.: Orders issued for 112th Brigade to relieve 111th Brigade in left section on night 20/21.
REPORT OF OPERATIONS OF 37TH DIVISION FROM 13TH NOVEMBER TO 26TH NOVEMBER 1916.
At the beginning of November 1916 the 37th Division was resting in the vicinity of DOULENS and MARIEUX, the Divisional Headquarters being at the latter place. The Division was under orders to be ready to move at short notice into V Corps Reserve in connection with an intended attack on the German front line system between the ANCRE and SERRE inclusive.
On 2nd November notification was received that the intended operations North and South of the ANCRE were postponed indefinitely. On the 7th November orders were received that operations North and South of the ANCRE, on a modified plan, were to take place on 10th November, but by an order issued on 8th November these were again indefinitely postpones. On the 9th November it was decided that modified operations were to take place on 13th November.
12th November: Accordingly, the 37th Division (less Artillery) commenced to move forward on 12th November, Brigade being situated on the evening of the 12th as under:-
63rd Infantry Brigade LEALVILLERS – ACHEUX WOOD.
111th Infantry Brigade VARENNES – HEDAUVILLE.
112th Infantry Brigade LOUVENCOURT – VAUCHELLES.
13th November: 37th Division Headquarter moved this day to VARENNES. On the following day in accordance with special order received from V Corps, two battalions (13th Battalion Rifle Brigade and 13th Battalion K.R.R.C. (King's Royal Rifle Corps)) of the 111th Infantry Brigade were moved forward at 9.45 a.m. to Q.25.d. to be at the disposal of the 63rd Division, and not to be moved forward without authority from Corps Headquarters. At 2.40 p.m. the remainder ordered to move to Q.25.d. to replace the above mentioned battalions, which had in the meantime been ordered forward.
The G.O.C. 111th Infantry Brigade, on going forward to send one battalion to support the 189th Infantry Brigade just South of BEAUCOURT, and to send two battalions to take up a position about STATION ROAD with a view to attacking at dawn on 14th November. The Brigade was eventually disposed as under:-
13th Bn. K.R.R.C. South of BEAUCOURT in touch with 189th Brigade.
13th Bn. Royal Fusiliers – about Station Road.
13th Bn. Rifle Brigade – about Station Road.
10th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. In old British front line.
These dispositions were not completed before 3.00a.m. on November 14th.
The position of the 63rd Division at this time is shown on Map 'Z'. It had assaulted and carried the German front line at 6.00 a.m., and during the morning had pushed on as far as the western outskirts of BEAUCOURT-VAUCHELLES to BERTRANCOURT, and come under the orders of the 3rd Division. Subsequently at 7.00 p.m., 2 battalions of this Brigade (11th Bn. Royal Warwick Regiment and 6th Bn. Bedford Regiment) were ordered to proceed to MAILLY MAILLET, where they would come under the orders of the 2nd Division.
14th November: At 6.00 a.m., the 13th Rifle Brigade, in conjunction with the H.A.C. (the Honourable Artillery Company) of the 63rd Division on their right, attacked, their first objective, MUCK TRENCH to RAILWAY TRENCH from about R.7.a.3.5. to the junction of LEAVE and MUCK TRENCHES. Each battalion had two companies in the first line, and advanced in waves of half companies. The two assaulting battalions were held up about 200 yards from their first Objective till 7.30 a.m., then they went on with the 13th Bn. K.R.R.C., which came in on their right, and captured both BEAUCOURT and their first objective. All further attempts to take the second objective were checked by machine gun fire.
The line reached by the 13th Bn. K.R.R.C. and BEAUCOURT TRENCH as far as the junction of Station ALLEY, but failed to get in touch with the 51st Division on their left.
At 11.35 p.m. orders were received placing the whole of the 112th Infantry Brigade under the orders of the 2nd Division: accordingly the remainder of that Brigade move up to MAILLY MAILLET that afternoon. Two battalions of the Brigade (11th Bn. Royal Warwick Regiment and 6th Bn. Bedford Regiment) participated in an attack on FRANKFORT TRENCH carried out by the 99th Infantry Brigade, which was not successful, owing to the enemy still holding MUNICH TRENCH.
As regards the 63rd Infantry Brigade, orders were received at 8.50 a.m. for the Brigade (then at LEALVILLERS and ACHEUX WOOD) to move to HEDAUVILLE and Q.25.d. At 3.20 p.m. the units of the Brigade at HEDAUVILLE were ordered to move forward and join the remainder of Q.25.d. During the night 14/15th the Brigade, in accordance with instructions received, took over trenches from the 189th Infantry Brigade: it was warned it would probably have to attack PUISIEUX and RIVER Trenches about 6.00 a.m. on the 15th.
The relief was extremely difficult owing to heavy shelling, and consequently took a long time to complete.
15th November: At 12 noon on this day the command of the line from River ANCRE to Q.6.c.4.4. passed to G.O.C. 37th Division. At the same hour Advanced Divisional Headquarters opened at the dugouts in Q.25.c.0.3.
The 63rd and 39th Divisional Artilleries (including 123rd Bde R.F.A., 37th Division Artillery, hitherto under 63rd Division) and 4th Brigade R.H.A., were also placed under the orders of the 37th Division.
During the day the 63rd Infantry Brigade improved and strengthened its trenches, the support battalion furnishing parties to make ENGINE TRENCH into a good communication trench. During the night a strong patrol of the 8th Battalion Lincoln Regiment was sent out to the junction of MUCK and RAILWAY Trenches and found it unoccupied by the enemy.
The 111th Infantry Brigade established touch late at night, 15.16th November, with the 51st Division, but only after many patrols had been sent out without succeeding in finding them.
The remaining two battalions of the 112th Infantry Brigade attached to the 2nd Division (8th Battalion E. Lancs Regiment and 10th Battalion L.N. Lancs Regiment) were placed under the order of the 99th Infantry Brigade, and at 9.00 a.m. took part in an attack on MUNICH and FRANKFORT Trenches, which was unsuccessful.
During the night 15/16th November, the 112th Infantry Brigade took over the front from the 5th Infantry Brigade.
16th November: After dark the 63rd and 111th Infantry Brigades established strong points at R.8.c.1.9., R.8.a.2.2., R.7.b.9.0. and in RAILWAY TRENCH and four posts in MUCK TRENCH. In accordance with orders issued by 37th Division, one company of the Somerset L.I. (63rd Infantry Brigade) was sent during the night 16/17th November to occupy ANCRE TRENCH up to R.8.b.1.5. with a post in Bois d'HOLLANDE: this was successfully carried out, PUISIEUX TRENCH was also reconnoitred and found to be held by the enemy.
17th November: During the night 16/17th November, the 112th Infantry Brigade was relieved by two battalions of the 97th Infantry Brigade, 32nd Division, and moved back into billets at MAILLY MAILLET. Subsequently, at 2.30 p.m., the brigade moved to ENGLEBELMER where it again came under the orders of the 37th Division.
Aeroplane reports received at 5.10 p.m. indicated that PUISIEUX TRENCH from R.2.central southwards, was unoccupied; strong patrols were therefore ordered to push out during the night, and establish posts in it. These patrols however found the trench strongly held by the enemy, and although they made six attempts to get in they failed to do so.
In accordance with orders received from the V Corps 37th Division Operation Order No.48 was issued for the occupation of the line from River ANCRE at R.8.b.0.4. - BOIS d'HOLLANDE, thence towards PUISIEUX Road about R.1.d.8.1. – junction of MUCK TRENCH and LEAVE TRENCH.
The 63rd Infantry Brigade was ordered to establish posts in PUISIEUX and RIVER TRENCHES, and to be ready to assist the 19th Division (II Corps) which was to attack GRANDCOURT and BAILLESCOURT FARM from the west, advancing South of the ANCRE.
18th November: Zero hour was at 6.10 a.m. The 13th Battalion K.R.R.C. on the right of the 111th Brigade was successful in establishing the posts it was ordered to north of MUCK TRENCH, slight opposition being met with in RAILWAY TRENCH only. The 10th Battalion Royal Fusiliers on the left of this Brigade although their bombing parties reached the trench junctions FRANKFORT TRENCH-LEAVE AVENUE and LEAVE AVENUE-MUCK TRENCH, were not able to make good owing to the failure, on their left, of the attack of the 32nd Division, which had relieved the 51st and 2nd Divisions the previous evening.
In conjunction with an attack by the II Corps at 8.00 a.m. the 63rd Infantry Brigade was ordered to be ready to attack PUISIEUX and RIVER TRENCHES at 10.00 a.m. This hour was by request altered to 11.00 a.m., in order to allow more time for the necessary preparations to be made. The 8th Battalion Somerset L.I. was detailed to carry out the attack, but the battalion commander had considerable difficulties to overcome in making his preliminary arrangement and when the actual order to attack was received, he had only 20 minutes. For this reason the attack was carried out by only 1½ Companies, and was also late in starting. The bad state of the ground accentuated the difficulties caused by the short time available and the cramped nature of the assembly position.
The barrage arrangements did not reach the 8th Battalion Somerset L.I., one of the messengers having been wounded on the way, and the other having spent much time in taking him to a Dressing Station. [This failure led to recommendations that messengers should either run separately or run two pairs using different lines].
The O.C. 8th Battalion Somerset L.I. went forward about 11.20 a.m. to see how the attack was progressing: finding some of our shells bursting amongst his men he ordered the attack to stop for a short time. Meanwhile bombing parties pushed on and entered PUISIEUX TRENCH: they were followed by the remainder of the 1½ companies and 2 companies of the 4th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, which had been ordered to support, and the trench was consolidated South of the BEAUCOURT MIRAUMONT Road. During the ensuing night the strengthening of the line of posts continued.
The left of the 19th Division, on the right of the 63rd Infantry Brigade, had meanwhile succeeded in reaching the western outskirts of GRANDCOURT, though its right had been held up by a strong point in LUCKY WAY and had failed to make any progress.
Touch was definitely established between the left of the 19th Division and the right of the 63rd Infantry Brigade at a point on the River ANCRE 150 yards West of GRANDCOURT at 9.45 p.m.
At 9.20 a.m. the two leading battalions of the 112th Infantry Brigade were ordered to move to STATION ROAD: two hours later the remainder of the Brigade was moved there also. Two battalions of this Brigade were placed at the disposal of the 63rd and 111th Infantry Brigade at 4.00 p.m. for the provision of carrying parties.
The night 18/19th November passed quietly and no counterattacks were made by the enemy.
19th November: After a 3 hours' bombardment by our heavy artillery of the junction of MUNICH and FRANKFORT TRENCHES with LEAVE AVENUE, the 10th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (111st Infantry Brigade) made another attempt to capture these points; strong patrols were pushed out at 3.00 p.m. behind a creeping barrage, but, on approaching the trench junctions they were met with heavy machine gun fire, rifle fire and bombs, and were driven back. The trench junctions and LEAVE AVENUE had apparently been little damaged by the heavy artillery bombardment.
Other Family Members in WW1
Walter's brother, Albert Edward, was a labourer in the Cordite Department of the Cotton Powder Works, at Oare, and died in the Faversham Explosion of 2nd April 1916. You can read more about the explosion and its effect on six men from our local communities on the Society pages devoted to these men.
After Walter's death, his brother Charles Robert (26th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers) died on 23rd November 1918 from injuries.